Dr Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany
The 2020 MERAC Prizes for the Best PhD Thesis are awarded in New Technologies (Instrumental) to Dr Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany) for her leadership and creative work in instrumentation, from the conceptual design and the feasibility study to the final integration and verification, both in the laboratory and at the telescope, related to the instrument PANIC.
Dr M. Concepción Cárdenas graduated in Physics at the University of Granada and began working in 1999 at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC, Spain) in the Instrumental and Technological Development Unit, as optical engineer until 2016. Always interested in getting a PhD, she conducted a master degree, simultaneously to her job between 2001 and 2003. As part of the IAA team for the development of new instrumentation for Calar Alto Observatory, she was appointed as the responsible of the optical package of PANIC in 2006 and of the infrared channel of the spectrograph CARMENES, in 2011. While developing PANIC, she restarted her PhD activities simultaneously to her job at IAA, and defended her thesis in December 2018. She was awarded the prize for the best Spanish PhD in Instrumentation, Computing and Technological Development in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Spanish Astronomical Society. She moved in early 2016 to the Max-Plack Institut für Astronomie (Germany) as Senior Optical Engineer with responsibilities on several instruments for the European Extremely Large Telescope.
Dr Concepción Cárdenas described in her thesis the complete development of an astronomical instrument, PANIC (Panoramic Near-Infrared Camera), from the conceptual design and the feasibility study to the final integration and verification, either in the laboratory as well as at the telescopes, following all the standard processes and exhaustive design revisions. Her thesis can be considered as a very good text book for students in the instrumental fields due to the rigor in the methodology, the achievement of all specifications and goals, with a scrupulous verification. Her thesis work on PANIC was carried out in parallel with all the activities required to the optical team at IAA, to the CARMENES project (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs), and with fulfilling her daily charges for an Optical Laboratory and the Observatory of Sierra Nevada.
The PhD thesis of M. Concepción Cárdenas Vázquez was conducted at IAA-CSIC under the supervision of Dr Julio F. Rodríguez Gómez and presented at the Univ. of Granada.